Huck Finn: The Birth of American Satire

Making people a laughing-stock is a common occurrence in America. Most people experience being made fun of in life. Not many people would think of an author writing an entire story employing satire. Mark Twain did write using satire, not only for parts of his book but for almost all of it. In The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain entices his reader with many moments of satire.

Mark Twain reveals many of his satirical remarks about Romanticism in the book The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. One of the first adventures for Huck includes the ship Walter Scott sinking, which is hilarious once you know the inside joke. The Romantic book Ivanhoe, which was written by Walter Scott, is ridiculed in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Twain mocks Walter Scott by having a ship on the Mississippi River, with the name Walter Scott , sink. Twain does this because he believes that Romantic books were written by hacks who knew little about the real world and nothing about the people in it. Another time that Mark Twain ridicules Romantic books is when Jim, a Negro slave, escapes from his owners, the Phelps. Huck and Tom Sawyer help plan Jim s escape. Unlike the Romantic books that Tom reads, Huck plans a simple escape. Tom tells Huck that the only way for Jim to escape is the way it is done in Romantic books, and it must be done that way. Twain infers at this point that Romantic books were ridiculous and exaggerated.

Mark Twain, in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, heavily mocks the belief of religion. When the reader notices the irony of the Shepardsons and Grangerfords bringing guns into church, while listening to a sermon about brotherly love , he must naturally laugh. The Shepardsons and Grangerfords have been feuding for over thirty years. Neither of them knows when it started or why, but they keep killing each other constantly. While they are at church, the preacher gives a sermon about brotherly love. Both families believe in that type of love. At this point the reader can decipher that Twain is trying to say that many times people try to act religious but don t. The Shepardsons and Grangerfords are hypocrites. Another item that Twain sees in need of satire is Heaven and Hell. At the beginning of the story Huck resides at the home of Widow Douglas and Miss Watson. One night Miss Watson tells Huck that she is he is going to Heaven, along with Miss Watson herself. After Huck hears this he decides that Hell must be a better place because Miss Watson isn t going there and he wants to go to Hell. Mark Twain points out to the reader that religion is not very effective on most people and that it may never be.

Mark Twain s satirical remarks on the subjects of religion and romanticism help the reader to enjoy The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn more. From the different views on the Bible to the involvement of 19th century literature, the reader can stay interested in the book, mainly due to Mark Twain s remarks. Mark Twain put a great impression on the rest of the writing world after the publishing of Huck Finn s story. As Ernest Hemingway said in 1959, All modern American literature comes from one book by Mark Twain called Huckleberry Finn. If you read it you must stop where the Nigger

Jim is stolen from the boys. That is the real end. The rest is just cheating. But it's the best book we've had. All American writing comes from that. There was nothing before. There has been nothing as good since.

Related Essays on Huckleberry Finn